Story by Jack Sinclair and Justin Diament
BROOKLINE — Although it wasn’t by design, Northeastern hosted a conference rival in their home opener at Friedman Diamond. They were originally scheduled to play Bryant on Tuesday, March 14, but weather saw that matchup postponed. Instead, the Huskies hosted NC A&T in their first home game of the year.
Following a disappointing opening weekend in CAA play at Elon, the Huskies looked to right the ship and grab an important series win against a fresh face in the conference.
Northeastern started the first game of the doubleheader once again with Wyatt Scotti on the mound. Right away, Scotti was dominating the Aggies offense. His control was excellent, and while he didn’t have as much of his strikeout stuff as usual, he was still extraordinary on the mound. Scotti would pitch seven complete innings, allowing only two hits over that time, and striking out five — one fewer than his season high tally.
The offense was the true highlight of the first game of the series. Graduate transfer Tyler MacGregor started the excitement, fighting off the Aggies starter, junior Connor Blantz, for thirteen pitches. On the fourteenth pitch, the first baseman connected and sent the ball sailing over the wall in right field. The Huskies jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
The power hitting continued an inning later, as freshman outfielder Cam Maldonado smacked a solo shot over the left field wall. Two batters later, junior Luke Beckstein drove one over the wall, scoring junior catcher Gregory Bozzo and giving the Huskies a four run advantage.
Junior transfer Jimmy Sullivan kept the parade around the basepaths going in the third inning. He smacked a single up the right side, scoring MacGregor. Two batters later, senior shortstop Spenser Smith struck a single up the left side, which scored senior transfer Alex Lane. Bozzo got in on the scoring as well, adding a sacrifice groundout which scored Maldonado. The Huskies now led the Aggies 8-0 in just the third inning.
They were unrelenting in their pressure, as MacGregor added his second solo home run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Two innings later, the home run party continued. Senior third baseman Danny Crossen smoked his first home run of the year over the left field fence, which was followed up by a two run shot from Lane, giving the Huskies a 12-0 lead.
The Huskies were not satisfied yet, however. Their insatiable appetite for runs could not be fulfilled it seemed. Sophomore Jack Doyle notched his first hit of the season, which just so happened to be a home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning. Sophomore Luke Masiuk concluded the scoring for the Huskies, notching a sacrifice fly RBI that scored freshman Matt Brinker. The Huskies beat the Aggies with a final score of 14-0 in the first game of the doubleheader.
The second game of the doubleheader saw the Aggies get off to a much better start than the Huskies. Sophomore catcher Canyon Brown smacked an RBI single up the middle in the top of the third inning to give the Aggies an early 1-0 lead.
An inning later, the Huskies tied it. MacGregor singled up the middle, scoring redshirt freshman left fielderHarrison Feinberg. The tie would not last long, as in the top of the fifth, junior Camden Jackson smoked an RBI single right up the middle to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead.
Northeastern did not trail for long, as in the bottom of the same inning, Brinker hit a home run that knotted the game at 2 runs apiece. There was some controversy surrounding the solo shot, as it was ruled a foul ball initially. An appeal by the third base umpire saw the call overturned, granting Brinker his first home run as a Husky.
The Huskies took the Brinker homer as a sign, and began increasing the pressure against NC A&T. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Smith struck a sacrifice fly, scoring Lane. Northeastern then loaded up the bases, which allowed Beckstein to earn an RBI walk, scoring sophomore center fielder Mike Sirota. Feinberg got in on the fun as well, drilling a single through the left side and scoring Maldonado. The Huskies now led, 6-2.
The Aggies would get one back in the top of the eighth inning through a solo home run from Jackson. Redshirt junior Anthony Hennings brought his side a run closer by poking an RBI single through the gap in the middle infield. The score was now 6-4.
The Huskies knew exactly what they needed to do in order to bury the dagger in the back of the Aggies, and they did exactly that. Beckstein earned another RBI through a one run sacrifice groundout, and Feinberg earned a pair of RBIs by doubling down the right field line, scoring Bozzo and Smith. The Huskies had effectively slammed the door on the Aggies chances, and held on to win the game 9-4.
The Huskies sent freshman Aiven Cabral to the mound for the final game of the series. Cabral, who earned a starting rotation spot thanks to pitching 5 ⅓ innings of scoreless ball in relief against UCF, made his first career start last weekend against Elon. That start was strong for the righty, as he gave up two runs across five innings. However, this outing was tougher sledding for the freshman — he was hit hard early in the game and early in counts, giving up eight hits and three runs across the first three innings before being lifted for redshirt senior Nick Davis in the fourth.
Cabral limited the run damage thanks to only giving up one extra base hit and some timely outs, but the Huskies remained behind by three until the fifth thanks to an incredible start by NC A&T’s Jaheim Brown. The sophomore struck out the side in the first inning and finished with eight strikeouts across four innings. Brown’s magic game came to an end in the fifth, as he let the first two runners reach base and was pulled for reliever Jake Delisi. Delisi limited the damage, allowing just one of Brown’s runners to score and keeping the Aggies up by two.
Delisi, who entered the game with an ERA north of nine, scattered five hits across 3 ⅓ innings. He kept Northeastern off the board for the next two innings as graduate student Patrick Harrington kept the game within reach until the 8th. Harrington, who had faced the minimum through his first two innings, allowed three hits in the inning, the third being a two-RBI single for the Aggies’ Anthony Hennings.
Northeastern battled back against Delisi in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out thanks to three singles from Sirota, Maldonado and freshman Melo Musacchia. But in a scene mirroring when Brown was pulled for Delisi, Delisi was lifted for junior Justin Poris, who came in and limited the damage to just one run.
NC A&T remained up three going into the bottom of the 9th. Aggies closer Xavier Mecham was a bit wild after entering, walking Crossen on five pitches. After a strikeout and a double, a throwing error by Aggies third baseman Cort Maynard allowed Sirota to reach base and a run to come home and the tying run to reach first. Maldonado walked on a full count, putting the winning run on first.
With the Huskies on the verge of making the ninth inning comeback, the unimaginable happened, as Smith lined one toward the middle of the diamond. Instead of the game-tying single it appeared to be off the bat, Smith’s liner was caught by a diving Sabin Roane, who then tapped second base to complete the double play, as Maldonado had run on contact. Instead of a tie game, both final outs were made and the series was over. When the dust settled, the Huskies managed to score only three runs, leaving13 runners stranded, thanks to getting only one hit with a runner in scoring position.
The Huskies remain at home this week for a slate of nonconference games, starting with a matchup against BC on Tuesday. WRBB will be live with full coverage from Jack Sinclair and Khalin Kapoor for first pitch at 3 p.m.